Review: Caitlin Park’s ‘Milk Annual’

My very first album review has gone up today on bobbysix.com.  You should maybe wander over and check it out,  along with the rest of the site – a polyglot of music news, reviews and interviews as well as fashion and culture.

*edit* Text of the review is now below:

I must confess that while sampling sounds of unusual provenance makes for an interesting press interview/snippet of information to be bandied about, I often find the technique clunky and frankly irritating. Not so with Caitlin Park. In Milk Annual, she’s crafted a beautiful album full of delicate, thoughtful songs that, despite very professional production, feels entirely handmade.

At this point I could go for a long winded metaphor involving a patchwork quilt of found sounds carefully stitched together with a thread of folksy guitar and gentle vocals, ironed and laid out through production by Liam Judson of Belles Will Ring. But I won’t, because that may seem trite, unnecessary and pretentious, all of which sits uncomfortably with the pared-back simplicity of tracks such as With No Strength To Defend, Be A Ghost or the hand claps, unashamedly catchy hooks and pop sensibilities to be found on single Baby Teeth.

The way she plays guitar makes you think you can see it. You’re intensely aware of her fingers, the process of it, particularly on opener How’s Your Wife? where audible fret noises ground her sampling and use of electronic sounds in an earthier folk tradition. The range of sounds she employs demonstrates not only a curiosity into the nature of language best seen on the Tic Tac Language Song, but also her ambition and ingenuity in the use of the sounds of a match striking in the similarly experimental Match. Wrist. Bird.

Ordinarily I would baulk at the term ‘experimental’ as too often it’s lazy shorthand for ‘people on drugs with a bunch of whistles, old gameboys and access to garage band’ but it’s clear that, after months of collecting such diverse samples, she has indeed experimented with them before carefully layering them with her gentle vocals and accomplished songwriting to piece together a very considered album. You can read her track by track explanation here, if you’d like to know more about her ideas and methodology.

Comprised of songs which are breathtakingly intricate yet remain accessible and, above all, enjoyable,Milk Annual is best listened to accompanied by the smell of grass with sun on the back of your neck.

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